There are some design movements in history that have had an impact that far outweighs the relatively short time that they were practiced and where the Germans had Bauhaus, the Italians had the Memphis Group. 40 years on from Memphis’ founding, Tissot have released four updated versions of the 1988 collaboration between the watchmaker and Ettore Sottsass, the group’s founder: the Tissot Heritage Memphis Collection.
The Memphis Group was an Italian architecture and design group formed by Ettore Sottsass in 1980, creating colourful and controversial furniture and accessories that helped to define the late 80s and 90s. While the Group closed down in 1987, Sottsass continued creating brightly coloured and beautiful objects including the original Tissot collaboration watch in 1988.
The new limited edition versions stay true to that original heritage design, with bold colours and stacked geometric shapes. The dial is very simple but striking in its own way. The big rectangular and circle indices wouldn’t look out of place on a diver and they look great, although it’s the centre hands that are the clear standout.
The hour hand, attached to a large circular base, is thick and imposing, while the minute hand seems to glide along with its connection to the hand stack hidden beneath a disc – that disc also serves as the seconds hand. It’s a complex layering of sharp lines and rounded edges the likes of which can be seen throughout the work of the Memphis Group.
That style continues from the dial to the case itself, with a bevelled bezel and caseback that creates a stepped effect on both sides of the watch. It also has an interesting lugless design, with a rectangular connecting piece on either side of the case that allows you to swap out the strap. Speaking of straps, the Memphis Collection pieces each come with two: a subtle black version or a brightly coloured one designed to contrast with the timepiece, for that full Memphis Group experience.
The watches are available in two sizes, 34mm and 41mm, with two variations each – bringing the total number of pieces to four. The case options at 34mm are stainless steel or stainless steel with yellow gold PVD bezel, while the 41mm adds a blacked out PVD version with inverted dial colours to the mix.
The sizes are obviously made with gender in mind, but the design itself is unisex and the one you pick ultimately comes down to size preference. You don’t have to worry about picking the movement because they all come with a standard quartz mechanism. Of the options, I think the 34mm with the pink strap captures the essence of the Memphis Group the best. It’s all about those bold colours and breaking with traditional design principles.
As for availability, the Heritage Memphis Collection is very accessible. The 34mm versions are limited to 1,700 pieces while the two-tone 41mm is limited to 2,500 and the all black to 3,000, all ranging from £315 – £340.
Price & Specs:
Model: Tissot Heritage Memphis Collection
Ref: T134.410.37.051.00 (stainless steel and black PVD coating, black strap & blue strap)
T134.410.27.011.00 (stainless steel and yellow gold PVD bezel, black strap and brown strap)
T134.210.17.011.00 (stainless steel, black strap and pink strap)
T134.210.27.011.00 (stainless steel and yellow gold PVD bezel, black strap and red strap)
Case/Dial: 41mm (T134.410.37.051.00/T134.410.27.011.00) and 36mm diameter (T134.210.17.011.00/T134.210.27.011.00), stainless steel
Water Resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Swiss Made PreciDrive, quartz
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Interchangeable synthetic
Price/Availability: £340, limited to 3,000 pieces (T134.410.37.051.00)
£335, limited to 2,500 (T134.410.27.011.00)
£315, limited to 1,700 pieces (T134.210.17.011.00/T134.210.27.011.00)
More details at Tissot.